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Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > Apr 17 > The Sine wave and how you can use it inside Ableton Live

The Sine wave and how you can use it inside Ableton Live

The humble Sine wave is the most vanilla of all raw synthesiser waveforms, but it’s incredibly versatile and effective, and appears throughout Live. Martin Delaney explores ways to get creative with it…

Technique Ableton Live In Depth

Waveforms are the fundamental building blocks of synthesis, whether you’re using software or hardware, and the Sine wave is arguably the most fundamental of those; it’s definitely the most basic. Waveforms are found within oscillators, and that means LFOs – lowfrequency oscillators – are also dependent on waveform selection for their character, including the Sine. I’m not a deeply techy person – and neither should you be, you’ve got music to make, after all – but it’s worth getting a handle on some synthesis basics. The Sine is a totally ‘vanilla’ sound, but it’s incredibly useful. We’ll talk about some examples of how to use this flat tone to create far more interesting sounds.

The classic synthesiser waveforms are Sine, Saw, Square, and Triangle. Each of these has a distinctive sound, although there are many possible variations. Inside Operator, for example, there are three Sines, eight Saws, eight Squares, and just one Triangle. Hardware synths don’t necessarily feature Sine waves: for example, the Korg MS-20 uses Triangle, Sawtooth, Square, and white noise. In FM (frequency modulation) synthesis, the Sine wave is very important, and that’s partly how we’re using it in our tutorial here – Operator is at heart an FM synth, even the name comes from that – an ‘operator’ is what an oscillator is called in FM synthesis, and an oscillator is the part of the synth that produces the waveforms. Sine waves are used for drums, bass, keyboards, pads, everything, in fact – you could build a whole composition, a proper viable production, using only Sines as a sound source. That would be a great creative challenge, and a great way to learn more about synthesis, Operator, and Live. Hmm, I’m going to try that project myself!

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About MusicTech

In issue 169 of MusicTech we present the best dance, acoustic, band and soundtrack setups for all budgets in our massive cover feature, also this issue we speak to the guru of game music, the third part of our huge From Studio to Release feature: this time looking at recording vocals, we feature 6 of the best modular effects and review the latest hardware and software from the likes of Spitfire, Melda, Cableguys, TC Electronic, Apogee, Audified, UVI and more. PLUS free with this issue you get the complete guide to mastering, an exclusive supplement featuring all the best mastering content we’ve run last year
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